Another Millstone – Post Number 200

SYCT 160514-54

You want a representative picture, sir? May I suggest this is rather colourful?

At my law firm we did annual appraisals. Of course we did. We were market leaders, a state of the art law firm. Even as far back as 1980. As a young associate solicitor I had my first in 1981. It comprised broadly the following:

Partner: ‘Sit down, Geoff.’

Me: ‘Thank you.’

Him: ‘Well, how do you think it has gone?’

Me: ‘Well, ok. I think.’

Him: ‘Good. So…?’

Me: ‘Well…?’

Him: ‘Must get on.’

They improved. I became one of them. We improved. We took it very seriously – in theory. It was just that, on the day, things kind of slipped.

Sainsbury's Garden 033

too casual?

Partners were to offer constructive criticism.

Him: ‘Oh and well done.’

Then we were encouraged to press for some self analysis from the associate.

Him: ‘Really how do you think it has gone?’

We agreed to focus on the specific job done, so the associate had a reference point.

Him: ‘How do you think it has gone. Specifically.’

And at all times we would be positive.

Him: ‘No really. Well done.’

And then we reached 1995 and forms appeared and we poured over them and the associates poured over them and we read what was written on the forms and we discussed each answer with the analytical minds you would expect to be brought to bear by a serious, top notch law firm. Prepared, we went into the appraisal meeting…


Too cheeky?


And it still went much like the above except, after, we filled in the boxes that recorded what had been said and the responses. And that was the opening salvo in weeks, if not months of negotiation between interviewing partner and associate around what might, or indeed should have been said and the likely responses had the partner actually said what he had now written.

my pic

Too cocky?

We gave HR more power to make us behave. We ignored them. HR took sticks to us. Then planks, and girders. They went on courses in mind management and torture to try and force us to say what we should say.

They thought they had the answer: the 360° appraisal. They were sure, if the associates could appraise us then we would them. Symbiotic. Of course not. These are young men and women who wanted to become us; they knew what was expected from a partner/associate appraisal.

Finally they scrapped the annual appraisal as a stand alone set piece; instead there would be more regular appraisals, with the purpose of ensuring every associate  was assessed on a matrix of basic levels of skill expected of someone at each stage of their career and the experience they had in fact received. Not micro management, more water torture. They called it Career Milestones; soon we called it Career Millstones, weighing everyone down.

And that, dear readers is what this is. This blogger’s career milestone – the 200th post. And for some it’s a millstone; yet another selection of dead words set adrift in the blogosphere before becoming so word-logged and bogged that it drags blogging to new depths of repetitive mediocrity. Ok, some of you like my ramblings for which I am most eternally grateful.

my pic 4

Too camp?

I started in April this year with a piece on Cornwall  and the Cornish language; I reached 50 with a thought piece on the anti war poets’ Sonnets in June; no. 100 was a tip of the hat post to that achievement, on 2nd August, focusing on the subject of quantity not quality. ‘I’ll slow down,’ I wrote, ‘I’m sure I will’. I haven’t. 150 came and went in October  with a response to Charli Mills’ challenge around Expectations.

So, from that random selection I will extract my career millstones for the next month and a bit and on to my 250th.

Number one. I will spend it in New Zealand (mostly). Like Cornwall, it is a foreign country or so the Cornish (why not the Corns?) would have it. If there was a Scottish style referendum in Cornwall today I wonder? NZ has ties back to Britain – its flag still carries the Union Jack and the Queen is still head of state – and it will be interesting to see if, as some have said, it is like Scotland on Steroids. Cornwall is beautiful – rugged, empty, idiosyncratic. They have a second official language, as Cornwall now does. Maori. Kia-Ora. To me, until a week or so ago,  that represented a dishwater thin orange squash that we slurped during Saturday morning pictures in the 1960s; from now on it’s my greeting of choice. Let’s see how NZ shapes up. At least I can be sure they’ll tell me what they think of English Rugby.

me and tortoise

Too cerebral?

Number two. I seem to have left my poetry writing in a desk drawer. It has always had to come from the heart and I haven’t felt the draw (or drawer) recently. Perhaps I will find my muse again, cruising down the 90 mile beach to Cape Reina, growing hairy feet in Hobbiton, climbing around the Franz Josef glacier or bungee jumping in Queenstown. If not then I will have five Nano days left when I arrive. The good news for Harry Spittle fans is that the sequel to Dead Flies is coming on a pace and he’s in trouble and needs his sister to rescue him.  I’ve crested 50,000 words but there’s a  ways for him to go yet. And when that’s done and it goes into the bottom drawer to simmer for a few months there’s my next book, God Bothering, to get to its final edit. I’ll post about GB before I go.

Number three, expectations. I hope that’s you, peeps. I know you expect to join me on my travels through the Land of the Exceptionally Interesting Blogpost. And my plan is for your expectations to be fulfilled.

And may this be the abiding image I take on my journey

geoff cricket

Yep this one is the real me. Mr. Cool


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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26 Responses to Another Millstone – Post Number 200

  1. Panday Sohrab (NHS HARDWICK CCG) says:

    My experience as a young GP partner 22 years ago was as follows Partner:

    ‘Sit down, Sohrab.’

    Me: ‘Thank you.’

    Him: ‘Well, how do you think it has gone?’

    Me: ‘Well, it’s very hard and not really sure if it’s working out To be honest.’

    Him: ‘Good. So…?’

    Me: ‘Well…?’

    Him: ‘Must get on.’

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dylan Hearn says:

    I wonder if I’m the only blogger trying to work out which cricket ground you’re snoozing in, or even which test match you’re watching (it could only be a test match if sleep’s involved).
    Congratulations on your milestone. I’m lagging behind you and have a few more month’s blogging time over you as well. Have a wonderful time in NZ!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa Reiter says:

    Heavens to Betsy – you do score highly on ‘prolificness’. And also (on my tally card) for variety and humour in your posts (so already guiding us through a land of Exceptionally Interesting Blogposts.)
    Having researched, designed, implemented, managed and finally seen the light with performance management systems, I probably empathise with the overall ‘ah hem’ approach to the formal appraisal approach to reviewing progress! A load of effort and guff that rarely changed anyone’s output or sense of being appreciated, let alone managed to ‘measure’ the things that count with some of the more specialised professions.

    I envy your output Geoff: I’m struggling to sit long enough to compose this comment at the moment and as a consequence, suspect I have more in common with those at the ‘James Joyce’ end of the output spectrum. So, if this were a performance management system I was being measured by, I would look to..
    ..move jobs!

    Looking forward to hearing about your travels and progress towards post 250! Lisa x

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Thank you Lisa but quatity is not all . I have lost the art of making time to read. I hope N Z will encourage that too. I realised this would have made a good response to your latest challenge so, having missed the chance to double up I will have to rummage around for another experience

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Reiter says:

        I need to read at bedtime so that helps keep my habit going. I’m a bit of a terror at having two or three books on the go simultaneously though – a rough mix between exhilarating thrillers and soulful memoirs! Will get to yours soon enough! Wondering what you’ll choose for your trip?! Don’t think too hard, just enjoy 😀


      • TanGental says:

        Thanks Lisa. I will try. Maybe that’s the same advice I should give you about flat hunting?!!


    • Hahaha! Was thinking the same thing, Lisa! “I envy your output Geoff: I’m struggling to sit long enough to compose this comment at the moment…”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Charli Mills says:

    Congratulations on your milestone–definitely not a millstone! Your words bubble to the surface in the sea of blogs. 🙂

    Love the mango color of your shirt, by the way. My favorite scarf from Pune, India is that same color. Can’t wait to travel vicariously through TanGental and read more words. Better than well done or good.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Annecdotist says:

    Congrats, Geoff, and love the colours. I had one of those non-appraisals in my novel, so frustrating if you actually want to address something, but blissful if youjust want to get on with the job. Here’s wishing you happy travels.


    • TanGental says:

      Thank you Anne. I thought from a long way back that appraisals should be done by people independent of work colleagues who would ensure the issues were aired. But we were never grown up enough to give up that power. glad you enjoyed a little spring from my colour choices and I’ll let you know about the travels. I’m excited for sure.


  6. Sherri says:

    Many congratulations Geoff…I was shocked to discover that I recently blogged my 200th post but I’ve been blogging since January 2013! So your output is amazing, and as Charli says, definitely not a millstone 😉 My problem is keeping up and trying to find time to blog, write, and read. Finding it harder and harder and something’s gotta give…! Looking forward to reading all about your travels – and do take plenty of pics of Hobbiton, hairy feet and all if you go, I’m a LOTR geek you see. Take care, see you soon and safe, happy travels 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      The Lawyer, when asked what he particularly wanted to experience in NZ said ‘Hobbiton and the Marlborough vineyards!’ As I’m teetotal I’m perfect a the driver of choice that day! I will think of you Ms Matthews when we see the Burrow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        How lovely, to be thought of during your visit to Hobbiton. That sounds like my perfect day out. 🙂 In such a way, I shall be closer to it than I dared hoped to be 😉 Will be thinking of you and The Lawyer too as you experience such delights…and take lots of pics too 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  7. lorilschafer says:

    Congratulations, Geoff! I haven’t even reached 200 yet and I’ve been blogging for two years! Looking forward to the next hundred. 🙂


  8. Well, congrats have been offered all around but I must raise a glass to you here (no, no, please don’t raise yours — no need to spill wine on that nice shirt, dear). A toast to two-hundred!

    Love the photos. All of them. Fantastic. And, as in Geoff style, the captions are quite amusing.

    Have a wonderful time in New Zealand! I’m a tad envious but, mostly, just happy for you. Except Hobbiton. That’s pure envy.


  9. willowdot21 says:

    Congrats, well done and Bon voyage! I love this another lovely peek into your life. We used to have meetings like yours … Ours was called APR I am afraid I never asked exactly what it stood for but I think it was Anual Pay Review.We had to fill in a form and be ready to discuss our career!
    I worked at a welcome desk in a supermarket at the time, did we care.
    Line manager: hello take a seat, oh! good you have filled out your form.
    How are things?
    Me: Fine no problems.
    Line Manager. Any problems with anyone?
    Me : No ( as if I am going to answer that.)
    Line Manager: Great, are you happy with your salary and where do you see yourself on three years.
    Me: Not not really, doing your job ( but properly).
    Line Manager not looking too impressed. : Right good nice to have had this chance to chat.
    Me thinking …. What??
    Anyway all academic now broken back and the last APR was before my accident and now five years later almost I am retired never knowing the dizzy heights of Line Manager..
    I am looking foward to your NZ trip. O ask myself why I love your blog? Maybe my own life is a tad lacking in fun , joy, anything right now. Thank you so much for sharing. xxxx


    • TanGental says:

      This is so funny; a doctor friend recalled an exact same interview he had in similar circs. The tick the box appraisal.
      I want to offer up something to show your life is rich and part of that is you should know how may times your poetry cause a ripple of unexpected thinking, a phrase that catches the moment. There’s craft and there’s passion and you assimilate one into the other. So if you perceive yourself lacking in fun, be assured you’re creating it for others and maybe sublimate some for yourself! Hopefully I can bring you the odd smile from the other side of this small world of ours..

      Liked by 1 person

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